You may have noticed we didn’t post a blog in September. For good reason – the biggest update of all had its very own post, the historic cap-and-invest plan to slash carbon pollution, and we didn’t want to steal the spotlight! The Pacific Northwest fall weather may be saying it’s time to curl up with a good book, but the Air Quality team is busier than ever because the January launch of the cap-and-invest program is just around the corner!
Finalizing our framework
As we’ve mentioned before, we've undertaken three rulemakings as part of our work to develop and implement Washington’s new cap-and-invest program. We adopted the first two rules earlier this year, but the Cap-and-Invest Program Rule (Chapter 173-446 WAC) was really the linchpin. It details the specific structure and parameters of the entire cap-and-invest program – from how many allowances will be issued to how the auctions will work. It's the policy we finalized and finally adopted on Sept. 29, 2022.
Needless to say, this was a major accomplishment and a crucial milestone for Washington.
Although our rulemaking efforts are complete, we still need your help to make sure our work under the Climate Commitment Act (CCA) benefits all of Washington.
We are currently seeking input from organizations, environmental justice advocates, Tribal governments, and the general public on draft indicators and factors that will be used to identify overburdened communities highly impacted by air pollution in Washington.
Give us your feedback
We have held seven public meetings as part of this process, beginning in September. The public engagement period for the Improving Air Quality in Overburdened Communities Initiative ends Nov. 10, 2022. You can submit your feedback online, by mail, or by voicemail.
Since many natural gas and electric utilities are covered by the cap-and-invest program, the Legislature included provisions in the Climate Commitment Act to help protect residential heating customers from potential increases in their utility bills, prioritizing low-income households.
The Legislature also directed Ecology to provide recommendations to assist customers who use other types of heat, such as fuel oil and propane.
To develop these recommendations, we are conducting a public process with three informational meetings to go over existing weatherization, fuel switching programs, and to hear ideas on how to improve current and future programs.
- Oct. 20, 2022 – first stakeholder meeting
- Nov. 1, 2022 – separate Tribal informational session
- Nov. 10, 2022 – second stakeholder meeting
Learn more about the residential assistance heating program or contact Harrison Ashby, project lead.
Auction platform registration opens
Another major development following our rule adoption is the opening of registration for the CCA auction platform! The first quarterly auction will be held in the second half of February 2023. We are working to ensure everyone has all the information, documents, trainings, and other resources they need to use the platform.
Registration is now open for our first training on how to use the auction platform, administered by WCI, Inc. This training will cover how to apply to participate in auctions, submit bids for emissions allowances, and view auction results. We encourage anyone who intends to participate in cap-and-invest auctions to attend.
CCA Auction Participant Training
Thursday, Dec. 8, 10 a..m - 12 p.m.
Register for the training
We recently held the first three trainings on how to use the Compliance Instrument Tracking System Service (CITSS). This system allows users to participate in auctions, and buy, sell, or hold emissions allowances. Registration in CITSS is required in order to be able to access the WCI, Inc. auction platform. Anyone who intends to participate in auctions or trade allowances must complete the process.
If you weren’t able to attend the trainings, you can request a link to the recordings and a copy of the slides by emailing our auctions team. You can also sign up for our Auctions and Trading Market email alerts to be notified about auction news and resources.
Speaking of trainings...
We've also opened registraton for a new training covering how to register and submit emissions reports in the updated Greenhouse Gas Registration (GHGReg) platform, which businesses use to report their emissions to Ecology.
Registration in this platform is required for all greenhouse gas reporters, even if they aren't covered by the cap-and-invest program. This includes businesses that have already been reporting their emissions. Any business with more than 10,000 metric tons of GHG emissions per year is required to report under Chapter 173-441 WAC and is encouraged to attend.
GHG Registration System Training
Tuesday, Dec. 6, 9 a.m. – 11 a.m.
Register for the training
Our recently adopted rule included four offset protocols from California’s cap-and-invest program. A "protocol" is like a guidebook, describing what an offset project needs to do to be eligible under a regulatory program. Now that the rule adoption is finalized, we are working to develop the tools and resources that developers will need for new or existing offset projects approved in Washington.
- Learn more about offsets on our cap-and-invest webpage.
- Look for a dedicated webpage about offsets coming soon.
Third-Party Emissions Verifier trainings
Further down the line in 2023, we will be opening up our Third-Party Emissions Verifier trainings. The cap-and-invest program is built off of Ecology’s existing GHG Reporting Program, which requires large emitters to contract with an independent third-party that specializes in verifying emissions reports. This helps us ensure that the data we receive is accurate and provides an additional level of quality control.
While we anticipate that most of the verifiers certified in California’s program will seek certification in Washington, this program is still in early development, and emitters don’t need to have third-party verifier reports submitted for 2023 emissions until Aug. 10, 2024.
Till next time
If you haven’t already, be sure to sign up for our CCA email alerts to keep tabs on our Meaningful Momentum blogs, newsworthy announcements, and other updates!